The beauty industry has been much-maligned for decades for animal testing and the use of animal-derived ingredients in its many concoctions. But the truth is, as I see it anyway, that it is actually the most vocal and active of all industries in its quest to ending animal testing and animal cruelty and pushing towards a plant-based future for cosmetics.  

Let’s consider everything we use in life on a daily basis. Almost every touch point – from the flame retardants in our mattresses, to cleaning products we use in our homes, to our car interiors and the petrol used to fuel them, to cigarettes (if you’re a smoker), to furniture polish and all manner of medicines and much more …. It all has in some way, shape or form been created by harming an animal or its environment or by testing on animals.

Yet, the fuss is always loudest about cosmetics. I’m not for one second condoning those beauty houses who continue to still use animal testing or animal tested/based ingredients. I’m just pointing out that at least the beauty industry is actively making a change from within!

Did you know that even today, when we know for a FACT that smoking causes cancer and all other manner of illness, animals are still locked up and force-fed cigarette smoke to see what effect it has on their health? It’s mind boggling.

According to PETA, “In tests that many people don’t realise are still being conducted, animals are forced to breathe cigarette smoke for up to six hours straight, every day, for as long as three years.

“Animals naturally avoid breathing cigarette smoke, so lab rats are forced into tiny canisters, and cigarette smoke is pumped directly into their noses. In the past, dogs and monkeys have had tubes attached to holes in their necks or have had masks strapped to their faces to force smoke into their lungs. In other commonly conducted tests, mice and rats have cigarette tar applied directly to their bare skin to induce the growth of skin tumours.”

Yep, as far as I can see the beauty industry stands out amongst the one doings its best to improve and to create change. Let’s begin with the Body Shop…

From its very inception in 1976, the Body Shop has been against animal testing and has been a vegetarian and cruelty-free range of products, with a vast vegan offering.

In 2017, it launched a global campaign to end animal testing in cosmetics forever. Its petition gained over eight million signatures and that petition is now on its way to the United Nations for consideration. Ambitious? Sure. Achievable? Undoubtedly!

People Power speaks.

According to the cosmetic company’s UK website, “Animal testing in cosmetics has been banned in the EU for five years now, and market research indicates that vegan and cruelty-free are two of the biggest issues for customers in 2018. We’ve also seen rapid innovation in science and technology, so that non-animal testing can quickly become the mainstream. There’s never been a better time to call for an end to animal testing in cosmetics!” (Visit the Body Shop to find out more.)

But it’s not just animal testing that many in the beauty industry want to end. It’s the use of all animal derived-products.

Uber-cool cosmetic emporium Mecca, has recently announced that its Mecca Maxima collection is now 100 percent vegan. It launched as a cruelty-free collection in 2017 and this year upped the ante by including only 100 percent vegan products in its luxe line up (we’re talking serious beauty brands like Ren, Hourglass, Too Faced and Dr. Dennis Gross).

“Vegan beauty is definitely on the uptrend,” observes Mecca’s Head of Education, Jacob Stanley. “The huge demand for vegan products means that brands have really upped their game; products can’t just go animal free, they also have to do more and work faster just to cut it.”

“It’s important to know that a ‘cruelty-free’ stamp means that a product is not tested on animals, though it could contain animal-derived ingredients,” he continues. “On the flipside, vegan labels mean no animal ingredients. Legit vegan buys even exclude ‘no-harm’ ingredients like beeswax or honey and proteins or acids from milk.”  

Yoka Heart Balms, $22 each, are 100% vegan and cruelty-free fragrance balms created by Perth based yogini and Reiki practitioner, Karen Grant. Karen wanted to create an alternative to traditional fragrance, without animal products or testing, and so produced six stunning aromatherapy-based balms – Love, Joy, Clarity, Calm, Sleep and Mood.

Herbs + Heart is another Aussie skin care start-up that chose the cruelty-free, vegan route.  It also offers fully recyclable glass packaging and locally sourced ingredients from ethical and environmentally-conscious suppliers.  

The Divine Company, partially-owned and run by supermodel Miranda Kerr’s Mum, Therese, also chose to go 100 percent vegan when devising its to-die-for skin care collection.

Therese says: “we know through clinical studies and research that animal-based ingredients and products are simply not required to provide a high efficacy results in skin care and indeed in the transformation of the skin. The power that plant actives provide in their highest, purest form – without chemical intervention or alteration in any way – has been scientifically proven to have a dramatically beneficial effect on the texture, tone and health of your skin, hair and bodies.”

She continues: “We have no right to use animals or animal products in cosmetics or any products that we use and indeed, why would we need to when we know they don’t have the same potent effect that a plant-based product does?”

Her daughter Miranda felt exactly the same way, and so chose to keep KORA skin care vegan and cruelty-free, as have other Aussie brands such as Mukti organics, Vanessa Megan and Inika cosmetics, which has recently been invited to be the official make-up brand for two shows at New York Fashion Week 2018 (Tadashi Shoji and House of Nonie). Also in the vegan line-up is Natio, Designer Brands, Raww, Bondi Scrubs, Saya, Arbonne, Eminence organics, Weleda, Dr. Bronner’s and really, far too many to list just in this one story.

But of course, I can’t discuss vegan cosmetics without talking about the fabulously fun brand, Lush, which brings the world the freshest scents, the most fun and frivolous bath balls and most effective skin care, all without harming a hair on a bee’s body.

To obtain a full list of true vegan brands, including food and other products, visit: and


About the Author


After 30 years of working in Australian media, Shonagh is one of Australia’s busiest and most in-demand beauty, health, travel and lifestyle writers.

As a health and lifestyle journalist and consultant, Shonagh has worked closely with international wellness experts and icons, including Dr. Sandra Cabot, Therese Kerr and Miranda Kerr.

In other aspects of her work, she has travelled the world reviewing wellness retreats and luxe holiday destinations, and she has interviewed and written feature articles on some of the world’s best love celebrities, including Sting, Elle McPherson, Pamela Anderson, Simon Baker, Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, Tina Arena, Heather Graham and many more.

She currently lives in the NSW Southern Highlands with her four dogs (three Siberian Huskies and one Maltese Cross), where she grows her own veggies and advocates ending Factory Farming and animal cruelty.

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